Today would’ve been Christopher D’Olier Reeve’s 68th Birthday – as is customary here at SUPERMANIA I like to showcase a little exclusive to celebrate and the above is quite the rarity. Indeed, this seldom-seen, jumbo 128-page one-off Special ‘Competition Edition’ comic hails all the way from Australia and is stuffed with content featuring stories from the Siegel & Shuster days right up to the present day of 1978.
There’s some thing for everyone in this DC Comics authorised anthology issued by Murray publishers, but of particular note to Superman Movie fans is the collection of ‘Movie Reports’, which had previously been published sporadically by DC across their entire range of titles. The five chapters above represent the only volume they have ever been collected in (although re-formatted and incomplete). There would also be a follow-on with issue #5 featuring Movie Reports on Superman II sandwiched between more reprints in what became a seven-issue run ending in 1982.
This little relic and thousands of others like it may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but in uncertain times like today, when a hero is needed more than ever, they serve as a nostalgic reminder of happier days when to us, The Man of Steel was real.
On this day, a mere 33 years ago, a 13-year old boy ran up several flights of stairs at the Kings 123 Cinema West Bromwich in great anticipation. For this was the first showing of the eagerly-awaited fourth film in the beloved Superman franchise, and this one even had an intriguing byline – The Quest For Peace. Much later I would discover the translation of this title in other countries was interesting (and in some cases, better.) In Brazil it was ‘In Search Of Peace’. In Denmark, ‘The Struggle For Peace’. The Swedish title was ‘The Threat From The Sun’, the German (and possibly my favourite) was ‘World On The Brink’. In Hungary it was known as ‘The Power Of Darkness’, and in France, Superman: Face To Face. Don’t be fooled by the first pic above, the proceeding vintage feature in French is not from MAD Movies but its short-lived companion IMPACT magazine, where Superman IV is given some serious coverage with rare images to boot.
Having viewed the movie for the first time I left the cinema in a daze only to bump into a schoolmate waiting in line for the next showing. I joined him and went back a second time. For all its apparent faults, it was a visceral experience and as serendipity would have it, remains a significant part of my life to date – not bad going for a notorious franchise-killing controversy-mired embarrassing box-office disaster. Yes, of course its terrible – part of embracing this picture is acknowledging its inherent Roger Corman production values – but having said that, love it or hate it, are we still talking about Billy Zane’s Phantom, for example, Lundgren’s Punisher or even Beatty’s Dick Tracy (to name but a few) all these years later with the same enthusiasm? Much of the film’s longevity can be attributed to the fact the behind the scenes story of how it even got made is arguably more captivating than the film itself, and yet, in this age of fan-lead campaigns powered by social media actively forcing major studios to re-tool failed theatrical edits nobody is asking for an extended edition of Batman & Robin.
Over three decades later, however, the campaign to restore the original edit (or Furie Cut) only seems to gain momentum, with final judgement out on the film until we see the full version. Of course, the infamous test-screening in San Antonio has become part of the legend now (to this day nobody to my knowledge has ever attested to seeing it) and theories prevail about whether or not the longest cut actually exists at all. The closest we’ve come to date was the Deluxe Edition from 2006, where ‘a great deal of deleted scenes’ were included, restoring faith that even in its ugly test print form, the footage still existed. Possibly more telling was Warner Bros. declaration ‘We have located all the footage from Superman IV’ but as fan cuts were all the rage at the time, were afraid to present it.
As the upcoming Snyder Cut of the equally-lauded Justice League has ably demonstrated, the fan is more empowered than ever and if enough voices are heard in unison, it can yield results. Nowhere was this better proved than with the original Richard Donner Cut of Superman II, restored and released without anywhere near the kind of aggressive campaigning prevalent today. We count on Warner Archive, having done such masterful restoration of the Extended Cut of Superman: The Movie and Supergirl on Blu-Ray to once again dazzle us with the kind of quality release us dedicated fans deserve, and, speaking personally, make me feel like a 13-year old all over again…
The name alone prompts a wave of nostalgia and immediately recalls frenzied sessions of ‘swapping’ stickers with school-friends in the playground. The excitement of finding that special ‘need’ nestled among all the ‘gots’ is something later generations would sadly never be part of, or indeed, understand.
And such variety! There was a collection for everybody. For the girls, Barbie, Sarah Kay and Fame, for the boys there were the annual Football albums but for those with alternative tastes there were Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, E.T. and Superman the Movie…
Don’t remember it? Well, unlike the comic adaptation and photo novel which never actually made print – this album was published in 1978, exclusively for the Italian market. There were also albums published in France, Portugal and the Netherlands by different companies – one can’t help but feel deprived of an essential piece of childhood collecting were it not for the iconic Topps Trading cards.
To make matters worse, flicking through the pages of this complete example, the album is every bit as nicely presented as any one of Panini’s best, utilizing many of the familiar publicity shots while telling the story of the film over a total of 204 stickers.
While this item does occasionally appear on auction sites its rarely complete and individual stickers, after 40 years, are as hard to come by as it sounds – a true jewel in the SUPERMANIA collection…